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Supergirl's Azie Tesfai Discusses What It's Really Like Being A Black Female Superhero - Exclusive

Azie Tesfai made history on "Supergirl" when she became the first actor in a Greg Berlanti series to write an episode. However, her groundbreaking strides on the CW series didn't stop behind the scenes in her episode, "Blind Spots." In addition to her writing credit, the episode marks the first time Tesfai's Kelly Olsen wears the Guardian supersuit — becoming one of very few Black female superheroes we've seen on the big or small screen. Directed by David Ramsey, Tesfai used her own lived experiences to write the episode alongside J. Holtham, and fans can feel the weight and authenticity of the episode in every moment. 

People often discount how critical representation and diversity are in movies and TV. But Tesfai's experience on-set with a young actress during the episode proves just how important it is for young audiences to see themselves in media. During an exclusive interview with Looper, Azie Tesfai discussed what it's like being a Black female superhero, the importance of representation, and how her appearance in the Guardian supersuit enthralled a young actress during "Blind Spots." 

'I'm Guardian.'

After we see Kelly don her version of the Guardian supersuit in "Blind Spots," a young girl grabs a trash can lid and says, "I'm Guardian." On that scene and how she feels giving young viewers a superhero that they can really see themselves in, Tesfai said, "I wanted that so bad, and then I got to cast the young girls who did it, and it made me so happy to see. There were two girls, and I got to cast them both. And then when I ... I just remember meeting her. I met everyone in my normal clothes, and then I had to go to change, and then I met that girl as a superhero, and her response to me was such a testament." However, the moment wasn't just deeply significant for Tesfai.

She added, "I walked into the cast area to say hi to all our guest actors, and she was like [gasping], and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm a Black female superhero.'" The young actress was so enthralled with Tesfai that she had to figure out how to keep the scene going. Tesfai noted, "It was the first time I'd seen before we shot that scene, the young girl scene. And it was just like, she just watched — to the point where, when we did that piece, I had already shot something, and I was going to do something else, and they couldn't get her to stop looking at me. And so I had to come behind [David] Ramsey and stand behind the camera because she just could not..." before she trailed off.

A new generation of heroes

"And then I was behind the camera, and I had to be like, 'What's your most powerful pose?' And then she would do it," Tesfai continued. "So I got to coach her through that, and it was so special, but to genuinely see this young girl be so taken aback by the superhero, it was such a testament to that scene, not just being important for the show, but I think I forget that she ... at the end, she was so scared to ask for a photo, but I felt like a really cool Disneyland character at the park." But for the young girl in the scene and young audiences watching at home, Tesfai's performance means much more.

"Yeah. It was amazing," Tesfai affirmed. "That was such a cool day because it was one of the first days in the suit with a bunch of actors, and she literally gasped and grabbed her chair when she saw Guardian, and I've never felt cooler."

New episodes of the final season of "Supergirl" air Tuesdays on The CW.